President Biden pardons federal marijuana possession charges, Manhattan impact

A Riley County Police badge rests on a Sergeant's uniform. (Archive photo by Andrea Klepper | Collegian Media Group)

President Joe Biden initiated the largest presidential change to U.S. drug policy to date on Oct. 6, according to Politico. He will pardon everyone in prison for minor marijuana possession charges under federal law. 

“Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives — for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs,” Biden tweeted

It looks like there will be no local affect, Aaron Wintermote, Riley County Public Information Officer, said. 

“I believe with those pardons, the state is actually the one who will determine if Kansas will be affected or not,” Wintermote said. “So at the local level, I do not believe there will be a lot of decision making at this point or effect.” 

Andrew Moeller, university police lieutenant of the KSU Police Department, said since the president pardoned federal offenses, Manhattan residents will not see any impact. 

“It has to do with federal charges and we do not charge any federal crimes because we are a local police department,” Moeller said. 

The president urged governors to take similar action for state possession offenses, according to Peoples Dispatch, as marijuana possession is almost entirely prosecuted at the state level.

Possession of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first time offense, according to Kansas law.

According to Politico, almost two-thirds of voters support pardoning nonviolent federal marijuana convictions.

Will Bannister, junior in finance and economics, said he supports the pardon. 

“Joe Biden called on governors to pardon marijuana offenses in their states and I really hope Laura Kelley takes a look at that and makes the best decision on that,” Bannister said. “Because really we have a lot of young people going to jail who have done a nonviolent crime for one of the least influential substances people can get their hands on.”